Elevating the online presence of your business requires the right tools. Fortunately, coding knowledge is not one of them. For a well-performing website, a content management system (CMS) is a godsend. A good CMS that is packed with all the relevant on-page, off-page, and technical search engine optimization (SEO) features can help make ranking among the top 10 of search engine results pages (SERPs) easier.
While there is no single formula or specific list of ranking factors that Google considers, the smart first step for any website looking to rank on page one is to choose the right CMS for SEO.
Below, we’ll talk about what a CMS is, why it’s important for SEO, and some of the best SEO-friendly CMS options available.
What is a CMS?
A content management system is an online platform that enables you to create, edit, manage, and publish content on your website without having to go through a web developer.
More than its convenient technical features, what a CMS really offers is control over your own content both from the back end (to deliver a seamless user experience) and the front (to deliver clean visuals and quality content) even without the coding know-how.
A CMS is important to your SEO strategy because it enables you to continuously update your website according to key search engine metrics and monitor its progress by the day, weeks, months, or even years.
What Makes a CMS Good for SEO?
One look at the array of CMS options makes it clear that there’s no shortage of choices. So how do you decide which CMS is best for SEO?
When deciding on the right SEO CMS look for a platform that offers both on-page and technical SEO features. If the software you are eyeing does not have all the SEO functionalities you need built-in, it should at least integrate with other apps or offer extensions and plugins.
Your search for the best website CMS for SEO should consider these five basic SEO optimization features:
1. URL Structure Settings
Clear and simple URLs tend to perform well organically. So look for a CMS that will let you create custom URLs using your target keywords and won’t won’t churn out complicated URL strings.
2. Customizable Page Elements
You should be able to customize your page title, meta description, and image alt text using your CMS. In addition, you want a software that will set the standard limits for you, such as 155 characters for meta descriptions and 70 characters for meta titles.
3. Internal Linking Tools
Internal links are vital to your on-page SEO strategy. They can boost your chances of ranking for your target keywords by helping search engines find all the content you have on a certain topic. Linking pages is something you can do manually, of course, but a CMS that’s designed for SEO will have a built-in internal linking capability that can automate this process.
4. XML Sitemap Tools
A sitemap is intended to simplify and direct how search engine crawlers explore and index your content. You can create a sitemap manually — but this will require some coding knowledge — or you can use a sitemap generator. Ideally, your CMS should also have the tools to generate a sitemap for you or at least be open to sitemap plugins.
Most SEO CMS have built-in analytics tools that let you measure the performance of your SEO efforts on a regular basis. The more comprehensive platforms will allow you to track organic traffic, keyword performance, page performance, leads, bounce rates, inbound links, content duplication, and more. Otherwise, you should be able to install your preferred analytics tools as additional plugins.
Other CMS capabilities — drag-and-drop blogging and content optimization tools, responsive themes, navigation menus, and redirect features — are also relevant to SEO, and these are typical to the majority of platforms today. You should also check if the software is offering SSL certification, not just for security but also because Google announced that “https://” is an official ranking factor.
Are Some Content Management Systems Better Than Others for SEO?
With the many platforms promising to be the “only one” you need to bolster your SEO strategy, deciding which CMS is best for SEO can be tricky. Are some platforms better for SEO than others? The answer to this depends on what you are looking for.
If you are an experienced developer who wants a specific design and structure for your website, you might benefit more by creating the code yourself. However, if you are an individual user or small business with limited to zero knowledge about content management and site maintenance, an SEO CMS that’s packed with all the off-page, on-page, and tech SEO tools will make your day-to-day so much easier.
As you explore the different SEO-friendly CMS platforms, consider the basic features we mentioned above. But if you’re looking for something more advanced and scalable, check how far the software’s integration and SEO plugin capabilities go, and see if these customization options allow you to develop the tool and align it with your goals.
Best 7 CMS for SEO
An SEO-friendly CMS with all the right features and add-ons can ease the task of optimizing your website so that it provides a seamless experience for you, your visitors, and search engine crawlers. Here are some well-reviewed platforms along with the pros, cons and pricing.
WordPress is arguably the most popular choice for SEO-friendly CMS. Aside from allowing users to build a website from the ground up, it also offers mobile optimization tools through its free Elementor page builder. Not all SEO features are built-in, like analytics, redirects and XML sitemaps.
But you can get around this little hiccup by installing plugins such as RankMath, Redirection, and Google XML Sitemaps. If you need more laser-targeted on-page SEO capabilities, you can install Yoast SEO, which lets you optimize meta data and add internal links, as well as provide recommendations for readability and keyword usage.
- Highly customizable
- Offers thousands of responsive themes and SEO-specific plugins
- Easy to use interface
- Has a built-in blog functionality
- Can be installed and used without having to go through a sales team
- No standard SEO tools, like analytics and XML sitemaps, built-in
- Need to install plugins and integrations for more targeted SEO capabilities
- Too many extensions and plugins sometimes affects page speed
- No dedicated customer support; you might need to work with a developer to fix issues (but there are also plenty of resources online)
Has a free plan but with limited website and SEO functionalities; Paid plans range from $7 to $59 per month, plus the cost of paid plugins (ex. Yoast Premium costs $89 per year, per website, while Elementor costs $49 to $999 per year)
2. Magento / Adobe Commerce
Magento had operated as an independent e-commerce platform until 2010 when Adobe acquired and then rebranded it. Adobe Commerce offers a wide range of marketing, site management, catalog management, and customer services tools as well but, for this article, we will focus on its SEO capabilities.
- Allows users to create SEO-friendly URLs and meta data for all parts of the site, including products
- Google Site Map built-in; auto-generated sitemap and popular search terms page
- Google Content API for shopping and robots.txt generator
- Default features include automatic redirects, duplicate content checking, canonical tags, and product categorization
- Access to many SEO extensions (ex. SEO Toolkit, Ultimate SEO Suite by Aheadworks, etc.)
- Long and drawn out onboarding process due to its many features
- Steep learning curve
- Pricing not available on the website
Not available; need to contact sales
3. Hubspot CMS Hub
CMS Hub is designed for businesses of all sizes and has quite a comprehensive list of on-page, off-page, and technical SEO tools that novice to advanced users can utilize. In addition to the typical key features needed to launch a website, it has a Performance capability built-in, which allows you to monitor views, bounce rates, exit rates, time on page, and other essential metrics. It also provides optimization tools including internal linking, search queries, inbound links, and call-to-actions (CTAs).
- Integrates with HubSpot CRM, which covers the Service Hub, Sales Hub, and Marketing Hub
- Can auto generate sitemaps and navigation menus
- Plan comes with an SSL certificate
- Provides SEO optimization suggestions without needing to install an extension or plugin
- SEO-friendly website themes
- No free version, but offers a free trial
- Migration process from your previous CMS could take a lot of time
Ranges from $25 to $1,200 per month; charges a one-time $800 onboarding fee
Wix is a crowd favorite among users who don’t have any coding experience but want the ability to make a professional-looking website from scratch. While used mostly as a site builder, it has SEO tools built in and can be enhanced further through extensions and plugins.
Because of its simple and relatively lightweight structure, Wix is known for helping achieve shorter loading times and boosting page speed. If you are looking for a CMS that pretty much does enough of the SEO work for you to give your site a fighting chance at SERPs, you might want to explore this tool.
- Easy to use and straightforward user interface; does not require fancy coding knowledge
- Comes with advanced SEO features, including structured data, a robots.txt editor, canonical tags, bulk 301 redirects, XML sitemaps, server side rendering (SSR), and image optimization
- Automatic mobile optimization capability
- Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for Wix Blog; integrates with Google My Business (GMB)
- While Wix is great for standard SEO capabilities, its advanced SEO tools might be tricky to implement.
Ranges from $14 to $39 per month for individual plans, $23 to $49 per month for business and e-commerce plans, and starts at $500 per month for enterprise plans
Joomla is another lightweight CMS that kept novice users in mind when it came up with its design and interface. Beyond the standard site builder and SEO tools built-in, this platform offers plenty of flexibility in displaying non-standard content types and accommodates dynamic images and videos. It also has built-in multilingual support. Those looking for a CMS that has the essential SEO features out of the box, this tool can make a good alternative to WordPress and other popular platforms.
- Equipped with modules and components that easily accommodate different types of content
- Allows different templates for different pieces of content (unlike WordPress that allows only one)
- Access to thousands of extensions and templates (themes)
- Users might experience a slight learning curve; while the software tools are easy to use, you will need to be more involved in the editing and content categorization process
- Advanced features for SEO, like analytics and tech SEO, might require the help of a developer
Free; Joomla is open-source CMS platform
Shopify is an ecommerce focused CMS with standard SEO capabilities. While not as powerful as the SEO CMS we mentioned above, it is a great tool for online sellers who want their products to attract potential buyers using search engine ranking strategies.
From an SEO standpoint, it is good enough, especially for small business owners with limited knowledge of back-end tools and would rather focus on marketing and growing their stores instead of tinkering with the website.
- Page optimization tools, such as headings, URLs, image alt txt tags, and meta tags, are built in.
- Product categorization; product URLs can be customized to include categories
- Allows canonical tags and redirects
- Can generate an XML sitemap and robots.txt file
- Once URLs and content type prefixes are set, there’s no way to change them in the future
- Auto generated canonical tags might point to the wrong page
- Risk for content duplication, unless the user gets extra meticulous
Ranges from $29 to $299 per month
Drupal is an open-source content management system with quite an extensive range to accommodate basic to the most advanced SEO elements. Given its huge online community and support system, there’s probably nothing that cannot be done on this platform for SEO and other digital marketing capabilities.
Drupal SEO Tools, in particular, is packed with all the optimization features one might need to succeed online. It is a great platform to explore and expand if you have some coding knowledge or have a developer to help you out. However, if you’re starting from scratch with little tech experience, you might want to work with the other SEO CMS with built-in features.
- Drupal SEO Tools module is an all-in-one suite of search engine optimization, reporting, and analysis features
- Includes keyword research and management, content tagging and autolinking, duplicate content alerts, metadata optimization, redirects, XML sitemap generator, and access to Google Analytics and Webmaster tools
- Huge online community with plenty of resources
- Expandable and scalable
- Open source nature might be intimidating for novice users
- Presence of extra features and too much code in the back-end could slow down the page load speed
Free; Drupal is an open-source platform
What is the Best CMS for SEO? The Bottom Line
Choosing the best website CMS for SEO depends largely on your experience level and digital marketing needs. Having tons of SEO elements built in does not make one CMS better than the other. You can have a content management platform that provides just the bare necessities and still can get to the first page of SERPs. It’s all about what specific optimization tools you are using and how you maximize them.
Markitors can help get your pages and products to the front page. Get in touch with the SEO experts at Markitors.com so we can create a customized SEO plan for your business.
Note: This page was last updated on September 28, 2021. Costs and other CMS product details are subject to change. Please feel free to reach out to our team if there are any features or cost changes we should incorporate in this page.